Artist’s fatal shooting spurs safety concerns among Oakland muralists

The fatal shooting of a muralist working on a community art piece in Oakland has prompted renewed concerns over safety among other artists, who are asking for increased community support as they continue to paint messages of peace.

Antonio Ramos, 27, was working with a group of artists on a Oakland Super Heroes Mural Project mural under a freeway overpass Tuesday morning when a gunman walked up and shot him. He later died at a hospital. The gunman walked away before police arrived.

Now muralists are pleading for support and presence from the community as they continue working on the mural, created by West Oakland middle-school students who imagined themselves as superheroes to help solve issues in their communities. The group is seeking volunteers with strong ties in Oakland to keep the artists safe.

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“The muralists have decided that the project must continue, in the name of Antonio and the message of the project, to off-set violence and blight and empower young people and artists,” the group said. “However, they must be protected. It is unacceptable that our artists must have to watch their back and feel unsafe while they bring youth images of hope and beauty to the neighborhood.”

The 4,000-square-foot mural is one of six pieces planned in a city beset by violence, the group said. The mural project, led by the Attitudinal Healing Connection, is a community effort aimed at wiping out gun violence by educating and engaging Oakland youth through art.

Ramos joined the project in 2012 when he spotted a mural being painted in a neighborhood and asked if he could help, the group said on Facebook.

Ramos’ death shocked his fellow artists, who held a vigil for him Wednesday night. Hundreds of candles shined brightly against the backdrop of the community mural where Ramos was fatally shot the day before.

Friends, family and neighbors left handwritten messages, a quilt, flowers and paintbrushes along the wall.

More than $26,000 has been donated to a YouCaring account created by Ramos’ friends to help his family pay for funeral costs.

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